Monday, April 9th, 2012...12:00 am

Creative Gardening to Deal with Problems – Part I

Creative Garden landscape Car by

ThisGardenLady grew up on a farm where there were always flowers. Though my mother did not have a nursery, she raised so many flowers that she did sell bouquets of flowers in the summer months.

So when I bought the property where I now live, I wanted large colorful flowers. But I couldn’t find a good place to plant them on this property because the original owner had planted sycamore trees- two in the front yard and three on the side of the yard. And in the back yard along the stream the property looks more like an old forest type of land. It is very pretty to look at and the trees keep the property cool during the heat of the summer. But this kind of property is not the kind that big flowers like. It is not the kind of environment for roses, for example.

Very few people find a property that has it all- a perfect place for a flower garden and a perfect place for a vegetable garden, etc. We all have to compromise or make do in the most creative way we can.

In my case, I don’t mind having a back yard that is wooded. It is very tranquil to gaze at that area. But the shade from the sycamore trees does not allow enough sun to grow most of the colorful flowers I dreamed of growing. And sycamore trees are not my favorite trees to look at in the front. Plus, now that the sycamore trees are more than 50 years old, their roots are taking over the front lawn. Roots of trees are shaped like pancakes, so the root structure covers such a large area, it does not allow other plants to grow. Besides having the roots spreading over most of the yard, the tree roots are voracious consumers of water which deprives other plants of water. So what could I do to have the flowering plants that I wanted? I could forget it and leave well enough alone. But I wanted flowers. It is way too expensive to cut down such large trees even if I would want to, which I don’t- that shade is a blessing. So I had to be “creative.”

In my case the main area in front of the house where the sun shines all day- just what the flowers love, is between the sidewalk and the curb near the street. I hated mowing that strip. I thought that I would have my lovely flowers if I could plant on the strip.

Curbside flowers by mikkashar

For a long time I did not know if it were legal to plant in that strip. Then I saw numerous other houses where people had put plants or small trees on the strip in front of their homes. I learned that my town allows one to plant there.

If you live on a property that has a similar problem with too much shade and you want to plant on the strip between your sidewalk and the curb, some advice.

First do what is called “limbing up” of the trees on your property. That is cutting the lower branches of your trees to see if enough light will now get to your plants. You might not have to use that strip to plant your flowers. I limbed up my sycamore trees but there was still not enough light. See here.


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